Virtual extortions and kidnappings on the rise in San Diego

Posted at 1:48 PM, Aug 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-03 00:59:14-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Virtual extortions or kidnappings increased in the past week, the San Diego Police Department said Wednesday.

The virtual crimes occur when a suspect calls a victim, claiming someone the victim knows has been kidnapped or threatened, police said. The caller demands money in exchange for the return of the "kidnapped" person.

In the past seven days, the San Diego Police Department responded to ten similar calls received by businesses in South and Central Divisions. In many of the calls, a Spanish-speaking person indicated he or she was a member of an organized crime group and said armed men would go to the business if the money was not paid.

The San Diego believes the calls were fake.

Police said perpetrators use information from open sources or social media to give their stories credibility.  In all recent virtual cases, the "kidnapped" person has no knowledge of the plot and is fine, said police.

Ted Harrington with Independent Security Evaluators gave some tips on how to protect yourself online. 

-set your accounts to private

-only fill out the fields with an asterisk, everything else is optional

-remember that no matter how careful you are anything you put out there can be accessed by someone